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New London to begin search for new police chief

August 21. 2013 10:33PM

NEW LONDON — The town is looking for a new police chief.

After Chief David Seastrand resigned April 4 in the wake of a state Attorney General's investigation into alleged improper conduct after arresting a Colby-Sawyer College student, the town's police force has been lead by Ed Andersen.

This week, selectmen decided to begin the search for a permanent chief, said Town Administrator Kimberly Hallquist.

"They decided to begin the search process," Hallquist said. What the search involves and how long it will take have yet to be determined.

Andersen is interested in becoming the permanent chief, and he will be considered for the position, Hallquist said.

Seastrand, 50, had served in the police department for 27 years and had been chief since 1995. He resigned as part of a negotiated agreement with the Attorney General's office following an accusation by 18-year-old Janelle Westfall of Alexandria that Seastrand asked her to pose nude for photos in exchange for having her charges dropped.

As part of his agreement, Seastrand surrendered his police certification, meaning he can no longer work as? a police officer.

Westfall was arrested for underage alcohol possession and giving a false name to police. She claims Seastrand called her a few days after her arrest arraignment and made the request during a meeting between the two at the police station.

After the accusation was made public, Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said the office had received calls from several women regarding Seastrand's conduct as police chief. Young said the investigation is ongoing and has not released further details.

Hallquist said after Seastrand's resignation, the town asked the Merrimack County Sheriff's Department for a review of the police department. That review, conducted by Chief Deputy Craig Saltmarsh, found many areas needing improvement, though none that would have changed Seastrand's case.

Among the recommendations were more staffing for the police dispatch center, an improved police department employee rank system, additional training for officers, better weapon maintenance planning, an update of department policies, and more "proactive" police work in the community.

But in his report, Saltmarsh repeatedly praised the town's police department staff and its work.

"Looking at the agency as a whole, in this reviewer's opinion, overall operations are well handled, shifts are being covered, investigations looked into, and dispatch is covering calls," Saltmarsh concluded in his report.

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